November 24, 2007

Dems: Getting Smarter?

Along with the rest of rational America, Abu Muqawama was shocked the Democrats chose Ricardo "Mr. Competence" Sanchez to deliver this week's radio address. (And boy, did Dave over at Small Wars Journal let Sanchez have it with both barrels for his trouble.)

But are the leading Democratic candidates smarter than their party bosses? Check out this article from tomorrow's New York Times:

As violence declines in Baghdad, the leading Democratic presidential candidates are undertaking a new and challenging balancing act on Iraq: acknowledging that success, trying to shift the focus to the lack of political progress there, and highlighting more domestic concerns like health care and the economy.

Advisers to Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama say that the candidates have watched security conditions improve after the troop escalation in Iraq and concluded that it would be folly not to acknowledge those gains. At the same time, they are arguing that American casualties are still too high, that a quick withdrawal is the only way to end the war and that the so-called surge in additional troops has not paid off in political progress in Iraq.

But the changing situation suggests for the first time that the politics of the war could shift in the general election next year, particularly if the gains continue. While the Democratic candidates are continuing to assail the war — a popular position with many of the party’s primary voters — they run the risk that Republicans will use those critiques to attack the party’s nominee in the general election as defeatist and lacking faith in the American military.

If security continues to improve, President Bush could become less of a drag on his party, too, and Republicans may have an easier time zeroing in on other issues, such as how the Democrats have proposed raising taxes in difficult economic times.

Abu Muqawama is taking 100% credit for this and is just going to assume that advisers from all the major presidential campaigns read this blog on a daily -- no, hourly -- basis. How else to explain the way in which his advice has been taken to heart so quickly? While this blog has the ear of the candidates, here are a few more bi-partisan recommendations:

1. Just because George Bush likes David Petraeus and James Mattis doesn't mean you should not. Continue to encourage and promote military officers who understand unconventional warfare. Even though military officers -- with their medals and boots and GOP voter registration cards -- can be intimidating to Democrats, they serve the Constitution, not the president or the ruling party. They will listen to you -- if you listen to them.

2. Familiarize yourself with the basics of counterinsurgency warfare. Realize the wars of your presidency are not going to be won with fancy weapon systems like the F-22, even if the defense industry and congressmen who care more about jobs in their districts than national security say they will. Read these books and articles. Start with the first three on the list.

3. Draft someone really smart sometime between now and next summer to be your unconventional warfare adviser. Listen to them. Allow them to work hand-in-hand with the people who develop your defense policy. Have one-on-one conversations with them and try to understand these conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan beyond what your pollsters are telling you.

4. Finally, fellow Red Sox fans might hate me for saying this, but enough is enough: Make getting rid of the designated hitter rule part of your official platform. We here at Abu Muqawama love David Ortiz and all, but all batters should field, and all fielders should bat.

Update: Charlie has more on the Dems here.